This just in: Alexa can now deliver the news like a professional newscaster

Amazon Alexa’s smooth, calm voice has become ubiquitous in homes throughout the world, but many people find her to be a bit too neutral when it comes to reading the news and other information. Inflection matters, and Amazon realized that Alexa could be more engaging through a few small changes. The Alexa team took advantage of developments in Neural TTS (or NTTS) technology to improve Alexa’s delivery.

NTTS is short for “neural text-to-speech.” The Alexa team has made use of this technology in the past to create Alexa’s “whisper” mode, and now the team has implemented a “newscaster” voice. Now, if U.S.-based customers ask Alexa “what’s the latest?” she will answer with a tone and cadence similar to how professional newscasters speak.

The use of NTTS technology allows Alexa to alter her responses based on the questions asked. The “newscaster” voice emphasizes specific words and phrases for a more compelling delivery of the news. This is just for Alexa’s specific delivery of the news, however. A different voice is used if you specifically request a different channel for the news, such as Reuters or CNN.

The changes in the news delivery are subtle, but it is easier to tell when a sentence ends or when Alexa is reading a headline.

Andrew Breen, senior manager with the TTS Research team at Amazon, says: “The ability to teach Alexa to adapt her speaking style based on the context of the customer’s request opens the possibility to deliver new and delightful experiences that were previously unthinkable. We’re thrilled that our customers will get to listen to news and Wikipedia information from Alexa in this new way.”

The changes are not limited to just news. The way Alexa reads Wikipedia articles has changed, which makes it far easier to understand the information she provides. As Alexa’s voice continues to develop over time — and her ability to process different requests and questions improves — the possibilities and applications for smart home assistants will grow. In time, Alexa may be able to respond differently based on the way you ask a question. With Whisper Mode and the newscaster voice already in place, it is an exciting time to own an Alexa and follow its development.

Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in the smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker. But the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Smart Home

Alexa, how much do you weigh? Questions unlock voice assistant's Easter eggs

Sometimes all we really need is someone to talk to, which is why we've rounded up the best (read: funniest) Easter eggs currently embedded within Amazon's virtual assistant. Apparently, Alexa knows more than you might think.
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Smart Home

These are the 13 best games to play on your new Google Home

Google Home is a handy device, but did you know you can play games with it? There are a ton to play, and we tested them all. Here are some of favorites that you can play on your Google Home device.
Smart Home

Best Buy zaps price on Nest Secure alarm, Nest Cam, and Google Home Mini bundle

Best Buy zapped the price of Nest smart home security Nest Secure Alarm and Nest Cam Outdoor bundle and added a Google Home Mini. Nest Detect sensors watch your home inside and out. Stream Nest Cam video in real-time or view clips later.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub get huge price cuts

If you act today you can get an amazing deal on the first-gen Amazon Echo Show on Woot or the current generation Google Home Hub on Rakuten. The Echo Show works with Alexa and the Google Home Hub with Google Assistant.
Smart Home

Video doorbell alert leads homeowner to confront suspected porch pirate

Video doorbells are doing their bit to help homeowners fight back against porch pirates, as this recent incident in California shows. The motion-activated device alerted the owner, who challenged the suspect right on the doorstep.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

Fast and efficient: LG’s new washer rocks the laundry in half an hour

Laundry is almost always a drag but for those with the means, LG's new high-end, Wi-Fi-enabled washing machines can deliver clean clothes in under 30 minutes using the company's new patented technology.
Smart Home

Grocery shopping wreaks greater havoc on the environment than meal kits

A study by the University of Michigan showed meal kits cause less environmental damage than meals from grocery store ingredients. According to the U-M researchers, grocery store meals produced more greenhouse gas emissions than meal kits.
Smart Home

You can now have your Amazon packages delivered in your garage

Amazon is expanding its Amazon Key service with Key for Garage. Eligible Amazon Prime subscribers in 50 U.S. cities will be able to sign up, assuming they have a myQ-enabled smart garage door opener.
Smart Home

The Houzz app now lets you virtually tile your floor with augmented reality

Augmented reality is starting to be a real bonus to apps like Houzz's View in My Room 3D tool, which recently added the ability to measure how a tiled floor might look in your living space.
Smart Home

The Dyson Pure Cool air purifier fan gets a massive $210 price drop

Allergy season is here in strength, but you don't have to suffer. NewEgg and Rakuten have refurbished Dyson AM11 Pure Cool Tower Purifier Fans for $210 off, less than half the regular price. This unit cools in summer and purifies all year.